Simutowe’s GM title conferred!!

Amon Simutowe receives his certificate for the GM result. Photo by Ben Schulte.

Amon Simutowe receiving his certificate for his 3rd GM norm in 2007. Photo by Ben Schulte.

It has been two years since Zambia’s Amon Simutowe had earned his 3rd GM norm. After adding a couple more norms, he still had not reached the required 2500 rating barrier. Recently, he had eclipsed the 2500 barrier and his title was conferred by FIDE. Simutowe told The Chess Drum that he had actually fulfilled the 2500 rating requirement as early as 2001, but was unaware that the 2500 rating need not be posted in order fulfill the GM rating requirement.

This is a tremendous milestone for Africa and it may have an impact throughout the vast continent. While Simutowe was not the youngest African to earn the title, nor the first, he may potentially have more impact due to his accomplishing the task as a self-taught man from a humble background and few resources. Chess has taken Simutowe to approximately 40 countries and he has competed with the world’s best. His tenacity and determination to accomplish this take is only overshadowed by his ability to overcome so many obstacles.

Congratulations GM Amon Simutowe!


  1. Congratulations Amon !!! This is fantastic news … bravo on your persistence. It’s great to see your talent recognized with the well deserved GM title.

  2. Congratulations as you are a strong player who will now be known always as a strong GM!

  3. We are really proud of Amon Simutowe. I really hope many more chess players from Africa will have the opportunity and the right support to obtain the needed GM norms. From what I understand, Simutowe did most of the work by himself –

    with sheer determination and hard work with little support.

    Good for him and good luck to him in his future endeavors

  4. While I’m hearing some players complaining about not being able to afford to travel to Libya, Simutowe is a prime example that despite resource limitations, it can be done. Just imagine if he did not have to worry about so many things… he’d be around 2600 ELO.

  5. In what month was Simutowe over 2500 Elo in 2001.I have accessed his FIDE rating profile on FIDE website but there is no indication of him ever surpassing 2481 .Am I missing something?

  6. Not sure, but most probably the early part of 2001 before he visited the U.S. and lost a load of ELO points. FIDE certainly has examined his record and he met the requirements. His listed rating is now 2486, but the FIDE rating does not have to be published. You can go over 2500 midway through a tournament and go back down at the end. I have cited the rule here before. Here it is again.

    1.5 Requirements for award of the title, having achieved norms

    1.50 Two or more norms in events covering at least 27 games.

    1.51 If a norm is sufficient for more than one title, then it may be used as part of the application for both.

    1.52 To have achieved at some time or other a rating as follows:

    GM ?2500, IM ?2400, WGM ?2300, WIM ?2200

    1.52a Such a rating need not be published. It can be obtained in the middle of a rating period, or even in the middle of a tournament. The player may then disregard subsequent results for the purpose of their title application. However the burden of proof then rests with the federation of the title applicant. It is recommended that players receive a certificate from the Chief Arbiter where they achieve the rating level during an event. Such a certificate should include a note of the date each game was played. Title applications based on unpublished ratings shall only be accepted by FIDE after agreement with the Rating Administrator and the Chairman of the Qualification Commission. Ratings in the middle of a period can be confirmed only after all tournaments for that period have been received and rated by FIDE.

    1.53 A title result shall be valid if it was obtained in accordance with the International Title Regulations prevailing at the time of the tournament when the norm was obtained.

    1.54 Title results remain valid for life. Thus there is no time restriction imposed on obtaining norms.


  7. Seems FIDE is getting stranger by the day with all crazy rule changes.I gather they are rating games played remotely via internet in the RSA Open where Simutowe is leading -how worse can it get??

  8. Well… I’m not certain how that works. They do have an arbiter in Australia supervising the players, so its hard to see why that would be a problem. We have long moved past the limitations of time and distance in chess. Soon major tournaments will be played over the Internet with arbiters in every location. Get ready… it’s coming. I’m not saying it is ideal, but the trend is afoot.

  9. This guy is a true warrior….no one can stop you from achieving your dreams…he had a vision and he is now living it….
    Bravo Amon Bravo!!

  10. Grandmaster Nigel Short ,England’s highest rated player seems to suggest the Grandmasters’ title should be abolished or reserved for serious World Championship contenders.I remember him suggesting Grandmasters below 2500 should be stripped of the title.Given the mushrooming of “Grandmasters” this might not be far off.Several players have been caught throwing games including a now top popular GM from Ukraine who desperately wanted to become youngest GM .There have been “tournaments” like the infamous Alushta .Personally I feel the title is worth half the weight it used to carry in the days of such illuminaries as Bronstein,Boleslavsky ,Nezhmetdinov amongst others.

  11. Given that there were so few GMs in the days of Bronstein one could argue that by few numbers alone the title carried more prestige. However, it’s very difficult to compare different eras. In fact, it’s a futile exercise. Regardless of these notions, the current rules are what they are (whether we agree or not). Players are getting stronger at younger ages, so let’s not be fooled by the “proliferation” of GMs. If we look at age records, they are falling across the board. I believe the standards should be strengthened, but the main titles (GM, IM, FM) should remain.

  12. Well done Mr. Simutowe on accomplishing one of many desired goals in life! Mr. Porter apparently you have made it clear that your loyalties belong to the euorpean Assizes,like nige short, actually he knows very little about the game of chess and as a matter of fact he will study the “Black Chess” on I.C.C. then switch over to the Play Chess Server and attempt to train with these new ideas. Now that hes feeling the “noose” tightening around his neck with this brother making Gm and theses young people closing in on him he wants to change the rules to give the appearance of superiority, you know, their typical deceptions. Now that you have brought up the World Title any Person that makes Gm the only level that they can ascend to is the World Title factually, so please clarify what you and the other Assizes mean by “serious” . “Im just curious” {Mathis}

  13. Lionel,

    It’s not worth it. Find an accomplishment by a player of African descent and Mr. Porter will try to discredit it.

    Credibility is also an issue. Mr. Short is not the England’s top player and has not been for several years now.

  14. Well done and congrats!!
    May your fire inspire the likes of African champion Robert Gwaze and others to rise and join you and make Africa a chess talking point!!

  15. Lionel, Nigel Short is top 100 and was World Chess Championship Challenger in 1993, and consistently did well in FIDE Candidates he can be ignored at your peril.The credentials of this icon cannot be questioned ,ask Amon himself and he will tell you he needed to learn a lot from studying Nigel’s games.He has been consistently on top of English rankings together with Michael Adams.Hating on Short won’t help
    Daaim I only talk di tingz man ,if you think that discredits anyone well thats your own take.

  16. @ Lionel serious in the sense I used above refers to real and strong examples being Ponomariov,Jakovenko,Mamedyarov etc.I would understand American relationships with GM Short ,especially Kamsky and his father .

  17. Because a player is top 100 doesn’t his rationale any more valid. GMs don’t make up the rules for a good reason and you’d be surprised at how many don’t know the rules. However, the point should be to make the standards tougher, not to disenfranchise people who spent years earning the accolade. There is something to be learned by those who have made GM, but have since went under 2500.

    I’m sure there is a lot GMs Arthur Bisguier (a Fischer contemporary) and Anatoly Lein can tell us about chess… and both are under-2500 (even 2300 USCF). After a lifelong list of accomplishments to strip them of the title would be criminal. I sat with Lein at the 2003 U.S. Championship and his stories about Mikhail Tal were memorable.

    Short rationale makes absolutely no sense. I feel if there is a rule change, make the standards tougher, but do not strip the title away from those who have earned it.

  18. We thank you Mr. Austin,however ,i must say it truly is a blessing we have this wonderful site provided by brother Shabazz . Mr. Porter this short character started this nonsense and im finishing it is all, since they wanna sneak around on icc all day and were suppose to be beneath them! what a joke! Futhermore i dont see anything special about pono, jako, or mamed they have been fully supported by their countries and federations, this brother Simutowe basically done this with the god-given force of his will and im sure with very little support, so his GM status is much higher than theses so called elite guys. Yo Karpov {nc6-d8-g5!!!-h3!} man you got me felling like Michael Jackson! the Thriller! haha. Not too bad coming outta da hood huh? and we havent even begun yet! hehe.

  19. All of these rule changes should not take place it is simply micro management to the extreme! Like the draw rule for example I submit to a way to eliminate draws get rid of the increments.

  20. Congratulation Amon …your GM title was earned with patience and perseverance. These qualities are part of your signature element and they will always proceed you. Keep on keeping on and may his force be with you!

  21. For a player from this part of the continent (Southern Africa) to achieve such a prestigious title is a significant step. Amon, my sincerest congratulations to you!!

    I still remember the first time Amon played in Botswana in the Zonal, him young and us a bit older. Back then we used to place bets on blitz games and he won plenty of games. He would leave with little money though as manof the older players refused to pay! He won that Zonal, winning aginst Robert Gwaze in the last round.

    Things were tough back then for him, and I remember Botswana Chess Federation having to clear a phone bill he had accumulated at his hotel. For someone to overcome the challenges he faced and reach the top is a story worth studying for inspiration, not only for chess purposes but even for other aspects of life.

    Many will be skeptical about this achievement, after all we are entitled to our own opinions. I for one only sees good things to come out of having a GM in our region. I hope he inspires many of our upcoming players to study hard and get better at their game.

    Again, my sincerest congratulations GRANDMASTER SIMUTOWE!!!

  22. I have followed with keen interest Amon’s pursuit for the GM title.

    It has not been a walk in the park,he has demonstrated that “If you can dream it,you can have it.Amon is a strong character who never kept his eyes off the ball….”or should i say off the opponent’s kings”

    I have seen most of his games,some of which he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.I have had a conversation with him over a classic game against a certain FM(Samuel) in Botswana in 2001.Just by watching him,literally walk himself out of a hopelessly lost position,i knew there was something deep in him.This goes a long way to show that where there is dedication,devotion and deligence,success is inevitable.

    I am personally very humbled by this achievement.Amon is the epitome of focus and hardwork.congratulations Amon and show them what Southern africa is made of.

  23. Kenneth,

    I have been informed that Amon indeed paid the bill in full to Arthur Kobese. He read your comment and contacted me with an assurance that it had been paid. This was confirmed by a third party from South Africa.

  24. Daaim,

    The comment on the phone bill was written in good light, so apologies due to Amon if in reading it one gets a different take. Indeed the bill was paid, but by Botswana Chess Federation. We just had fun about it, since the amount was small (in the region of P400 or U$50), and in no way did we view Amon in bad light. That someone was given money is an avenue best left alone as on Botswana’s side there is no issue at all. This story is part of my chess memoirs I have compiled over the years.

    Sorry for having taken long to respond, I have just arrived from four days holidays in the deepest parts of the country where there is no internet connection.

  25. Congrats Amon – now for kobese and solomon! How can I access games and results of African champs plse!

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